Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology (such as the internet or a mobile phone) to bully others.
Being a victim of cyberbullying can be very distressing for a young person as messages can be sent anonymously, making it difficult to know who the bully is. Moreover, the bullying can continue even if the victim and bully are not physically together (eg. at school) making it difficult to get away from.
Cyberbullying can happen in a number of different ways including receiving nasty messages or emails, being the target of a hate group on a social networking site, having embarrassing photos and videos shared publicly online, or being excluded from group conversations. Content can be circulated very quickly and anonymously on the internet and there are often lots of bystanders which can make the experience more traumatic and harder to combat.
How can I teach young people about this?
- Understand the tools: be aware of the reporting mechanisms on different sites and services so you can support your pupils in making a report.
- Discuss cyberbullying: be proactive in discussing cyberbullying with your pupils; how it occurs, why it occurs, and the consequences of such behaviour.
- Know who to report to: ensure that you are aware of who to go to in your school or organisation if you have concerns about cyberbullying incidents. This may be a head of year/department, a member of the senior leadership team, or the Designated Safeguarding Lead.
What advice can I give to young people?
The internet is an amazing resource and can be used in a number of positive ways. However, content posted online can be easily misunderstood by others and taken out of context. It is important for young people to recognise the importance of 'thinking before you post' and the need to respect their friends' and peers' thoughts and feelings online. What's considered morally right and wrong offline must also be thought of in the same way online, and treating others with respect on the internet is a good way to ensure that online situations are less likely to escalate into cyberbullying situations.
- Don’t reply: most of the time the bully is looking for a reaction when they’re teasing or calling someone nasty names. Remind young people not to reply, if they do they’re giving the bully exactly what they want.
- Save the evidence: encourage young people to save the evidence of any emails or messages they receive. Taking a screenshot can be a good way of doing this. This is so they have something to show when they do report the cyberbullying.
- Tell someone: encourage young people to tell a trusted adult if they are being cyberbullied, and to tell them as soon as they can in order to minimise their own upset or worry.
Resources for approaching cyberbullying with primary and secondary age children:
How to prevent and respond to cyberbullying of staff and young people: